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Celebrate the Century:
Search the Web for U.S. History of the 1910s

Search the Web to learn more about the stories behind the stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service, commemorating the people, places, events, and trends of the second decade of this century. Explore Web sites related to the Girls Scouts and the Grand Canyon, Charlie Chaplin and child labor. Included: An Internet scavenger hunt for students!

Celebrate the Century Graphic "Capturing history on stamps is an important part of what we do at the Postal Service," said John Ward, a Postal Service vice president, as he introduced the 15 stamps that commemorate the 1910s.

Those stamps, introduced February 3, 1998, are part of the U.S. Postal Service's Celebrate the Century program.


The following text is from the 1910s Celebrate the Century stamp sheet.

"Halley's comet lit up the sky to begin the decade. American workers began moving from farms to factories. The Ford Motor Co. refined the automobile assembly line. Traffic lights and white lane dividers became part of the American landscape.

"Scientific and technological achievements changed society. In 1911, in New York, fingerprint evidence alone was used for the first time in the United States to arrest a burglar. Jim Thorpe was an international sports star, but Tarzan was an even more popular hero.

"The accidental sinking of the luxury liner Titanic shocked the nation, but it was the sinking of another ship, the Lusitania, that upset society, leading to U.S. involvement in World War I. Two million American soldiers fought in Europe, and more than 116,5000 lost their lives.

"Americans saw the light as the decade ended: Daylight saving time was instituted in 1918. New words -- camouflage, electronics, and troublemaker -- became a part of the American vocabulary."


So sets the stage for the 15 stamps commemorating the 1910s.

The activities that follow will engage students in exploring Web sites as they search for information related to ten of the 1910s stamps. For each stamp, a question is posed and a Web site URL is presented. Challenge students to use the listed Web sites to answer all ten questions. Click here for the answers to the questions.

Stamp Graphic


Newspaperman Arthur Wynne created the first crossword puzzle. It appeared in the New York World on Sunday, December 21, 1913. Clue 2-3: What bargain hunters enjoy.

Question 1:
Take a look at Wynne's puzzle on the Web page noted below. How was Wynne's puzzle different from the typical crossword puzzles you see today?

The Web site:
Find the answer to that question on the Introducing Crossword Puzzles Web page.

Stamp Graphic


Lewis W. Hine's photographs of children working in mines, mills, and factories led Congress to try to regulate child labor, but the Supreme Court declared early laws unconstitutional.

Question 2:
One of Lewis W. Hine's photographs showed a group of "breaker boys" in 1911. What job did breaker boys do?

The Web site:
You can find the answer to that question on the Children at Work, 1908-1912 Web page. Go to Breakers Boys, 1911 to see a photo of breaker boys.

Stamp Graphic


Known as the Manassa Mauler because he was from Manassa, Colorado, Jack Dempsey won the world heavyweight boxing championship in 1919 and held it for seven years.

Question 3:
Jack Dempsey finally lost his heavyweight title in 1926. Which boxer defeated him in that fight?

The Web site:
You can find that answer and read about other "Career Highlights" on the official Jack Dempsey Web page.

Stamp Graphic


The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, saving a ship traveling between New York and San Francisco almost 8,000 miles.

Question 4:
How long did it take and how much did it cost to construct the Panama Canal?

The Web site:
The answer to that question can be found by reading the Short History of the canal on the History of the Canal Web site.

Stamp Graphic


Botanist George Washington Carver improved the economy of the South by demonstrating the commercial possibilities of peanuts and sweet potatoes. His "Movable School" educated impoverished farmers.

Question 5:
When George Washington Carver enrolled at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, he didn't enroll in the agriculture program. That came later. What did Carver study at Simpson?

The Web site:
You can learn what he studied on the The Legacy of George Washington Carver page on the University of Iowa Web site.

Stamp Graphic


The Boy Scouts of America was formed in 1910 and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. (at first known as Girl Guides) in 1912. Both groups introduce youth to a variety of outdoor activities and promote self-reliance and resourcefulness.

Question 6:
In 1913, W. J. Hoxie, a noted naturalist, and Juliette Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, prepared the first official Girl Scout handbook. What was the title of that handbook?

The Web site:
Take a tour of the Girl Scout Virtual Museum to learn the answer to this question.

Stamp Graphic


Charlie Chaplin first assumed his famous costume for the Little Tramp in 1914. The clothes, mustache, cane, and walk came to identify one of the most familiar characters in the history of film.

Question 7:
Charlie Chaplin introduced his Little Tramp character in two 1914 films. What was the title of one of those films?

The Web site:
Find the answer to that question on the Sir Charles Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin) Biography Web page from the Autographics Hollywood Legends series.

Stamp Graphic


The National Park Service was established by Congress in 1916. The Grand Canyon was officially designated a national park two and a half years later.

Question 8:
The Grand Canyon National Park can be divided into three distinct sections -- the South Rim, the North Rim, and the Inner Canyon. Which of those sections is the wettest? Which is the hottest?

The Web site:
You can find the answers to those two questions on the Grand Canyon National Park Information Page.

Stamp Graphic


The first Native American sports hero, Jim Thorpe was hailed as the greatest athlete in the world after he won the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.

Question 9:
Jim Thorpe was born in Oklahoma. He was of mostly Sac and Fox Indian heritage. What was his Indian name, and what does that name mean?

The Web site:
To find the answer to that question, read Jim Thorpe's Biography on the official Jim Thorpe Web site.

Stamp Graphic


Two million American soldiers fought in Europe during World War I, and more than 116,500 lost their lives. Back home, more than 1 million women joined the workforce.

Question 10:
The 1914 assassination in Europe of an archduke is often cited as one of the root causes of World War I. Who was that archduke?

The Web site:
To learn which archduke's assassination led to World War I, go to the Index to EyeWitness Web page. Find the link to another Web page that contains a description of this 1914 event.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1999 Education World

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